The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises has officially launched the ASEAN Access MATCH, a virtual matchmaking platform that allows businesses in the region and beyond to participate in live market information events, and book cross-border matchmaking meetings, according to a news release on Sunday.
Through the portal, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Southeast Asian countries can find new customers and suppliers, and take part in events where they can showcase their products and technologies for free.
Reinhold Elges, country director of GIZ (Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) Thailand, said the success of MSMEs is vital to economic growth in the region.
“However, when it comes to international trade, one key issue that businesses, especially MSMEs, face is the need to find new and relevant business contacts. This is where the public and private business support community can come in and make a difference,” he said during the January 25 launch of the platform.
The Deutsche GIZ implements projects and programs on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and supports the development of the ASEAN Access.
In the ASEAN Access MATCH, Elges said public and private event organizers can run an unlimited number of matchmaking events of their choice for an unlimited period of time.
“We have seen that we can all be productive and achieve a lot by connecting virtually online so reducing the time and also the cost to meet a potential client or new supplier. MATCH makes business matchmaking attainable for everyone,” he said.
Apart from showcasing products and technologies during events, Elges added registered members of ASEAN Access can promote these for free in the platform.
Associate Professor Dr. Veerapong Malai, director-general of the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion in Thailand, said the platform features country information and key sectors, thus users can utilize business insights in identifying opportunities and trends.
Asean Coordinating Committee on MSMEs chair, Dato Suriani binti Dato Ahmad, said that beyond the regulatory barriers to trading goods and services, the additional challenges faced by MSMEs include having limited access to information and distribution channels.
“Needless to say, having access to distribution networks is a crucial component for businesses particularly in diversifying (their) customer base domestically or internationally,” he said.
Ahmad said the Committee has been forging partnerships with economic players among Asean member states, including some agencies and enablers, chamber of commerce, and industry associations that aim to establish regional partnerships with international organizations.
“These network partners will greatly contribute to accelerating the growth of international trade in the region by supporting MSMEs and other businesses through ASEAN Access and ASEAN Access MATCH,” he added.